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Phytosanitary programmes in Germany

Reiner Schrage

Plant Protection Service, Pflanzenschutzdienst, Siebengebirgststrasse 200, 53229 Bonn, Germany; e-mail: [email protected]


This paper describes the organization of the plant protection service in Germany and, in particular, the organization in the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia. It discusses the nature of North Rhine-Westphalia’s primary production industries, the implementation of the plant protection programme and presents the phytosanitary staff, their qualifications and training, and how they work. The phytosanitary priorities and programmes for this part of Germany are described.

Organization of the plant protection service in Germany

Plant protection organizations, regulatory frameworks, responsibilities and activities in Germany exist at three levels: the international, the national and the federal state (or Land) level (see figure 1). At the national level, there is Germany’s Federal Ministry of Consumer Protection, Food and Agriculture, the Bundesministerium für Verbraucherschutz, Ernährung und Landwirtschaft. Under the ministry’s jurisdiction, but also a federal authority in its own right, is the Federal Biological Research Centre for Agriculture and Forestry, the Biologische Bundesanstalt für Land- und Forstwirtschaft (BBA).

Given that there are 16 Länder with their own ministries, the structure of plant protection in Germany is complex. This paper takes the plant protection organization within the federal state of Nordrhein-Westfalen (North Rhine-Westphalia) as an example of the structure at the level of the Länder.

Fig. 1: Organization of the plant protection service in Germany.

BMVEL = Bundesministerium für Verbraucherschutz, Ernährung und Landwirtschaft; BBA = Biologische Bundesanstalt für Land- und Forstwirtschaft

Phytosanitary operations in North Rhine-Westphalia

North Rhine-Westphalia covers an area of 34 070 km2 (see figure 2). It is the most heavily populated state in Germany with around 17.7 million inhabitants. Its capital is Düsseldorf. The state shares boundaries with Belgium and the Netherlands in the west and with three Länder: Lower Saxony in the north and east, Hesse in the southeast and Rhineland-Palatinate in the south. Although a highly industrialized state containing Europe’s largest concentration of industry in the Ruhr area, about half of the land area is devoted to agricultural and horticultural production.

Fig. 2 Federal Republic of Germany, showing the position of North Rhine-Westphalia and the other 15 Länder.

The state is noted for its floriculture and nursery industries. Horticultural trade includes flower imports, potplant exports and trade in potatoes as well as other vegetables and fruit. The NBV/UGA is Germany’s major sales organization for cut flowers, fruit and vegetables; it operates a large cut flower auction in Herongen in a large purpose-built facility, which currently devotes 15 000 m2 area to cut flower distribution and has 10 000 m2 area of cooling rooms.

Plant protection service inspectorate

Fig. 3 Plant protection service in Rhineland.

At 2003. Updated information is available at

Figure 3 shows the distribution of staff in the plant protection service of the Rhineland area within North Rhine-Westphalia. The plant protection service is a part of the agricultural chamber. There are three points of entry for the state, at Köln, Düsseldorf and Herongen.

There are three teams of inspectors, the largest group being that based at Straelen-Herongen. Three inspectors have agricultural degrees with specialized qualifications in horticulture. Twelve technicians are also specialized in horticulture with continuing "on-the-job" training. Phytosanitary inspectors attend three to five workshops each year and every month have local meetings with the supervisors.

Note that the organization of the plant protection service has altered since the date of the workshop at which this presentation was made in 2003. Staff numbers have increased from that shown in figure 3. Updated information is available from the Web site of the North Rhine-Westphalia plant protection service (

Phytosanitary work

Formerly the main tasks of the phytosanitary service of North Rhine-Westphalia centred around control of the import and export of plants and plant products at the border. Since 1993, when border inspections between the EU member states were abolished, there has been free trade of plants within the EU when accompanied by a plant passport. Work now centres on the registration and control of companies and other businesses such as producers, traders, import and export enterprises, stock and storehouses, and trade in wood and wooden packaging.

The main tasks of the plant protection service are:

Phytosanitary programme priorities and trends

The main focus of the plant protection service in relation to trade is on the export of wooden packaging material, effective vigilance at the points of entry and particular watchfulness of horticultural products.

Control activities for the ministry include the application and trade of pesticides, and residues in products, soil and water. There is also the control of the plant passport system for producers and trade.

Specific phytosanitary programmes include those for ware potatoes and maintaining buffer zones for fireblight. Other activities dealing with particular organisms are monitoring for Phytophthora ramorum, Diabrotica, Thrips palmi, Bursaphelenchus, Pepino mosaic virus and Xanthomonas fragariae.

Recent trends in the plant protection activities of North Rhine-Westphalia include an increase in control measures for the ministry. These involve environmental and consumer protection, and control of pesticides in water and products. There is increasing trade and control of horticultural products, particularly the cut flower industry. New quarantine organisms and the control of wooden packaging in international trade may add to the work load of the service. Certification and quality consulting for producers are also developing.

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